Wait, These Guys are Rookies?
Youthful Stingers Atop CIBA Northern Conference as Postseason Approaches
Coming off an 11-5 2012 season, Stingers baseball club manager Howie Schwartz likely expected Concordia’s 2013 campaign to be a strong one.
But considering the number of rookies on this year’s roster, he probably didn’t expect his team to be this good.
“I’ve never had a situation like this, where more than half of the players are rookies,” said Schwartz.
With five games left in the regular season, Concordia owns an impressive 9-2 record, good enough for first place in the Canadian Intercollegiate Baseball Association’s Northern Conference.
The last time the Stingers started off 9-2, they went on to finish 13-3 and win their conference championship game before eventually dominating Cape Breton University 12-2 in the CIBA championship final in 2009.
A notable veteran presence led the Stingers to the national championship that season. This year, they’re playing with only 11 returning players on a 25-man roster.
But that doesn’t seem to bother Concordia’s veteran manager.
“I think we have the same pitching strength [as the 2009 team],” said Schwartz. “We have at least as much depth and our hitting is probably better.”
The stats show as much: the Stingers have batted-in 24 runs in their last three games alone.
First, they humiliated the McGill Redmen 11-2 last Wednesday and then put an end to the Université de Montréal Carabins’ five-game streak with two swift victories—5-2 and 8-2 in this past Saturday’s double-header.
But Schwartz doesn’t credit the team’s success strictly to athletic ability. For him, team chemistry is just as important, if not more.
“Obviously we’re doing very well, we’re playing extremely well,” said Schwartz. “I get the feeling that we’re going to get much better as we continue to learn [about] each other.”
Intangibles play a big role, too.
“Even though I like our team a lot and I think we’re very strong, if we don’t keep our focus and keep our plan in operation, any team will beat us,” said Schwartz.
That lack of focus seems to be what cost the Stinger their only two losses of the season, both of which came in the second game of double-headers. Two weeks ago, Concordia lost 4-1 to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees—a team they’d beaten 11-0 earlier that day.
“I don’t have to work on [the team’s] talent,” said Schwartz. “My challenge will be to get them [to] understand the importance of focusing and preparing for the games. The mental part of the game is what has to be the factor between us winning or not.”
Like any coach, Schwartz has his eyes set on the playoffs and Nationals. But if his 15 years coaching the Stingers has taught him anything, it’s the importance of taking things one day at a time.
“I happen to believe that you focus on the here and now, you can’t do anything about what you did already and certainly can’t do anything about tomorrow,” he said.
“Tomorrow is not here yet, so deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes and take care of today now.”
The Stingers next take the field Wednesday against the John Abbott Islanders before playing two double headers to end their season. The first is Saturday against the Université de Montréal Carabins and the second is on Sunday, when they’ll take on the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. Playoffs begin the first week of October.